Locus Classicus – The Gee Chronicles
Aug 272002

None Vul
Dealer: North
Lead: S2

S K J 7 6
H 5
D 10 7 5 4
C A 6 3 2
S A 10 9 4 3
H 10 6
D Q 3
C K J 10 5
[W - E] Maestro
H K J 9 7 4 3
D K 6 2
C Q 9 8
S 8 5 2
H A Q 8 2
D A J 9 8
C 7 4

1 S
3 C

1 H
2 H

Some of my readers seem confused about the Bones Principle — confusion that I myself have perpetrated and that I hope to clear up with today’s hand. No one states the Principle more clearly than the author himself:

When defending versus Gee, if he is to play the hand, wait until he stops bidding; then, no matter your hand or the auction, double for penalties. It will be the winning action in about 90% of the cases.

It follows, as the author has noted elsewhere, that a pure Bones Principle double requires a hand on which one would never dream, otherwise, of doubling for penalties. A hand, in short, like today’s.

Gee, East, picks up one of the world’s worst eleven points. Any STCP™ would open the hand 2H. Gee gives himself full value for the stiff SQ, upgrades for the likelihood that he will declare, and opens 1H instead.

After a 1S response and a 2H rebid, West continues with an ill-advised 3C instead of passing, and storm clouds appear on the horizon. It’s not too late for Gee to bid 3H, which is off 1 on perfect defense (club lead and duck) but likely makes at the table. But Gee’s thinking, diamond stopper, club support, why not 3NT? The only thing his hand lacks is actual tricks.

3NT is passed around to Bones. Against an ordinary declarer he has no double. The auction normally indicates an East holding like xx AKQxxx Kxx Qx, on which 3NT probably makes, even on a spade lead, if West actually has his bid.

Bones doubles anyway, providing us with a canonical application of the Bones Principle. It is a nice question, on which, perhaps, the author might care to inform us, whether a Bones Principle double against 3NT also calls for leading dummy’s first-bid suit. Misu apparently thinks so; he leads the S2. Gee ducks, and Bones wins the SK and returns a diamond, ducked by Misu to the queen. Now the defense always comes to two spades, two hearts, three diamonds and a club: eight tricks. The hand has a final, remarkable point of interest. I would have thought it impossible, before today, to beat a freely-bid 3NT four tricks without even a single five-card suit.

If you’re still confused about the Bones Principle after all this, perhaps the specs can set you straight:

Spec #1 (before double): the bones principle may come into play
Spec #2: for the unenlightened among us, what is the bones principle?
Spec #1: it means to double G purely on the fact that he has voluntarily bid
Spec #2 (after double): wow! has it been patented yet? great double!
Spec #3: this bones principle sounds like an illegal bid to me
Spec #4: isn’t it alertable?
Spec #3: it’s not on general convention chart
Spec #4: brown sticker?

  3 Responses to “Locus Classicus”


    First, let me place credit where it is due: You will note in the hand diagram that my ‘handle’ is not capitalized; as per the note on my stat page, the actual holder of ‘my’ cards was a friend of mine, and NOT yours truly, for my handle is capitalized when it is moi at play. It was he who made the final double. However, for the edification and entertainment of the many fans of this webpage, it should be reported that ‘o_bones’ phoned me that day from across a continent, and gave me the hand as a bidding question (not necessarily a problem) at the point of the final choice, and asked me what I might do (note — when we first give each other bridge problems, the default assumption is that the opponents are experts). The CONVERSATION went something like this: o_bones: “so what are your thoughts and what do you do?” O_Bones: “Well, opener is minimum with what appears to be a 2632 or 2623 hand. He has only one or two S’s as he hasn’t supported the suit with three, so partner will be able to lead them more than once, and he has neither raised C’s nor bid D’s which he would do with four of either. Lending credence to a possible X is also the fact that without one partner is likely to lead a D in hopes of help in my hand, and that will be a disappointment; also, with an X, declarer may misplace the DQ, ‘though that may not be relevant. On the other hand, my S spots suck — I’d much rather own KJT8 (or 9), else the dummy’s suit may be set up for three winners. I guess after all this, if I think we are in need of a swing, I would crack it.” o_bones: “How about if dummy tanks before Passing 3NT?” O_Bones: “Then I pass; if I am being coffee-housed this expert dummy is going to get smeared.” o_bones: “Maybe he was thinking of 4NT…” O_Bones: “Not likely; an expert would do that in tempo, being prepared to hear 3NT when he bid 3C. It’d be more likely to be a non-expert thinking of 4H, but I’m not really concerned about that because pard is marked with at least four of those and could pound that game after I hit 3NT.” o_bones: “What about if declarer is Gerard?” O_Bones: “Oh. Then I crack it in tempo, without looking at my cards.”


    OK, but how about answering the question: does a Bones Principle double of 3NT still call for dummy’s first-bid suit?


      Common sense would suggest yes, it is best to lead dummy’s first bid suit anyway. Were one to attach a corollary to the BP specific for the opening leaders to such contracts, then the closest card to one’s thumb should suffice, as the sacrifice of an accidental trick or two should not matter relative to the set, although it could certainly matter in any search for ‘numbers with area codes.’

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